The Department for Work and Pensions has announced key changes to the Kickstart Scheme, namely that the scheme will now be opened up to receive direct applications from small employers. 

The Kickstart Scheme was introduced in September 2020, providing funding to employers in order to create job placements for workers aged between 16-24 and who receive universal credit.

However, the system was criticised after it was revealed that businesses would need to be offering at least 30 job placements to qualify for the scheme.

This meant that small businesses would need to partner up with other organisations in order to reach this threshold. Conversely, bigger businesses were allowed to directly apply to the scheme.

The Government have now announced that they are changing this system to allow smaller businesses to directly apply. In addition to this, the Department for Work and Pensions have also removed the minimum threshold of 30 jobs needed to qualify for the Kickstart Scheme.

The Federation for Small Businesses reacted to this news, stating:

Changes to the Kickstart are better late than never, it’s imperative that the government focuses immediately on unsticking the blockages stopping young people starting placements with those small businesses already in the system.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said:

Young people have been hit hardest by the effects of Covid on the jobs market – and with the crisis almost a year old, bold action is necessary to help them, and other workers who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The good news is that the Kickstart programme, and other initiatives like Restart, have been met with enthusiasm by employers.

The challenge Government faces is matching employer enthusiasm with the people who need a chance. Recruiters are uniquely positioned to do this, and the REC has been proud to do its part as a Gateway provider up to now. We will continue to offer this service to firms who do not wish to deal directly with DWP. It will be vital to ensure that removing the 30 placement cap does not cause further delays to support – so capacity will be needed to make the system work. REC members across the country are ready to help JobCentres make this work.

These changes to the Kickstart Scheme were announced after it was revealed that less than 2,000 young people had started new roles under the scheme, well under the predicted number. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stated that this could be attributed to the current lockdown restrictions which “hampers businesses’ ability to bring people into work”.

However, Mr. Sunak stated his hope that once lockdown restrictions have eased, there will be more young people starting their placements.